If you like the vocal work by the flashlight-totting Usherette at the begin of the FOX broadcast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again,” you can find plenty of other recordings by the singer. Producers turned to Arkansas singer Ivy Levan to belt out the opening tune, “Science Fiction/Double Feature.”
The opening montage is the first TV appearance for Levan, although her songs have been used on the soundtracks of “90210,” “Banshee” and “Spy.”
“There was no pressure at all doing the opening number,” Levan says, tongue in cheek.
Some of her nerves can be attributed to the role itself: The Usherette character does not appear in the opening of the stage or film versions of “Rocky Horror.” Instead, a pair of floating lips usually deliver the tune. The decision was made to add the Usherette character as a way of establishing the feeling that the TV production is being done in front of an audience.
Levan came to the attention of “Rocky Horror” director Kenny Ortega through the singer’s friend, Adam Lambert. The “American Idol” runner-up plays Eddie in the TV musical. It was only a few days after being cast that Levan found herself in a Toronto movie theater shooting the opening scene.
Because the character was new, there was a lot of flexibility creating her. Ortega told Levan that what he wanted was for her personality as a singer to come through.
“I did that and added a little more sass,” Levan says. “It was pretty nerve-wracking, but easy in the end.”
Part of the nerves had to do with the song. Levan describes “Science Fiction/ Double Feature” as being “far from easy.” It helped that she had been a fan of “Rocky Horror” since she was 11, so Levan was very familiar with the song.
Levan moved to the West Coast to launch her music career in 2003 and, three years after the move, released the album “Introducing the Dame.” She’s excited the role in the TV musical will give a new audience a chance to hear her voice.
The one thing that’s obvious when you hear Levan sing or talk is that there is no sign of a Southern accent. She smiles and says that the accent is still there, but it only comes out when she’s “pissed or drunk.”
The ‘Mirror’ cracked
If you are looking for some original programming to watch on TV but don’t want to get caught up in a series with a continuing story line, then “Black Mirror” is a possible solution. The Netflix series is an anthology structured much like “The Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits.”
Each episode is a standalone story with an entirely different cast, different characters, different world, often different realities and different directors. The only thread running through the episodes is that they all offer some type of twist.
One of six new offerings in the series features Bryce Dallas Howard living in the not-so-distant future where everyone is obsessed with driving their personal scores higher. A kind action or comment could get you a bump up with one swipe. Do something negative, and the numbers go down.
Howard’s character tries desperately to get her score to go up, but a series of unfortunate incidents seems to be blocking her efforts.
Charlie Brooker, series creator and one of the executive producers of the series, calls the episode a social satire about identity in the social media age.
The show’s other executive producer, Annabel Jones, explains that these new episodes are certainly more ambitious than those done in the first two seasons of the series.
“They are ambitious in scale, ambitious in terms of the talent we are working with, ambitious in some of the worlds, as well, that we have created,” Jones says. “Yes, they are crazier and bigger, but I hope that they still feel very grounded and at the heart there’s a human story and a human dilemma that we’re exploring.”
The idea is to create entertaining, thought-provoking dramas that also have a human element.
And, of course, there’s got to be a twist.
New episodes of “Black Mirror” will be available at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21, on Netflix.
One more time: “The Strain” will return for a fourth – and final – season in summer 2017.
“We sincerely thank Carlton Cuse, Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan and their creative team, as well as the fantastic cast for three exciting seasons of ‘The Strain,’ ” says Nick Grad, president of original programming for FX Networks. “Though we’re sad to see it go, we fully support the way in which they are crafting the fourth season’s dramatic conclusion.”
Joining the band: Joseph David-Jones has been cast as a recurring character in the fifth season of “Nashville” that will air on CMT and Hulu.
He will play a young musician destined for great things.